Totalitarian Governments
The Dictatorship
Features of the Totalitarian State
1. Single-party dictatorship
2. State control of the economy.
3. Police spies & state terrorism (against its
own citizens.)
4. Strict censorship & government control of
the media.
5. Use of schools & the media to indoctrinate &
mobilize citizens (usually against the
6. Unquestioning obedience to a single ruler.
Where did the first modern totalitarian
government form?
The first modern totalitarian government formed
in Italy in 1922 by Benito Mussolini.
It was called the Fascist Party.
The Fascist Party in Italy.
The name comes from the fasces which was a
bundle of sticks wrapped around an ax.
It was a symbol of authority in ancient Rome.
They rejected the democratic process in favor
of violent action & terror.
Fascist Tactics
The Fascists
Limited the press
No opposition rallies or protests allowed
Critics/opponents jailed or murdered
Secret police
The people of Italy accepted these actions
because they had lost faith in the government
of the king (parliamentary monarchy.)
How did Mussolini come to power?
Italy was plunged into social, political, &
economic chaos after World War I.
It didn’t get territory that it was promised
as being part of the victorious allies.
Peasant workers seized land from wealthy
land owners.
Workers went on strike or took over
Returning veterans faced unemployment.
Rival factions had crippled the government.
In 1919, Mussolini organized veterans &
other discontented Italians into the Fascist
He spoke of reviving Italian greatness.
Recalled the glories of the ancient Roman Empire.
He organized his supporters into “combat
They wore black shirts & were nothing more than
They beat up any person or group that they
considered to be leftist.
1922: Mussolini announced that the Fascist
party would take control of the government &
restore stability.
Thousands of fascist party members flooded
into Rome & pressured the king (Victor
Emanuel II) to make changes.
To avoid civil war, the king asked Mussolini to
form a government & become prime minister.
Mussolini had become the head of the
government without blood shed.
By 1925, Mussolini & the Fascists were firmly
in control of the Italian government.
Mussolini became Il Duce (The Leader)
It wasn’t long afterwards that Italy became an
authoritarian state.
Mussolini’s government would inspire Hitler &
the Nazi party to do the same thing in Germany.
Italy under the Fascists
 The Fascist government formed close ties
with the business leaders of Italy.
 Business leaders, wealthy landowners & the
lower middle class all supported the fascist
 Business changes included
– Corporate state
– Representatives of business, labor, government, &
the fascist party controlled industry &
– Workers could not strike.
– Wages went down.
The fascists were anti-democratic.
Democracy led to greed, corruption, & weakness
It put the individual or class interests above
national goals.
It destroyed feelings of community.
It was more important for the citizen to serve
the state.
The party elite claimed to rule in national
Major values promoted by the Fascists
 Extreme nationalism
Glorified action, violence, discipline
 Blind loyalty to the state.
Aggressive foreign expansion or policy
 Based on Social Darwinism
Glorification of warfare.
The Individual was BAD!!!
The STATE is more important than the
Men were expected to be ruthless, selfless
warriors (glorification of the military.)
Women were expected to be wives & mothers
All people were expected to make sacrifices
for the state.
Children were expected to join youth groups
where they were taught to obey strict military
discipline (emphasis on patriotism, athletic
competition, etc.)
 Italian children would chant, “Mussolini
is always right.”
 This is called the cult of personality.
 Glorification of the leader.
Why did fascism appeal to many people?
• It offered a strong national government at a
time when there was political feuding &
paralyzed democracy.
• National pride
• Charismatic leader with power & confidence.
• People were willing to sacrifice their
freedoms for economic or national security.
Fascist Propaganda
• Fascist propaganda emphasized the values of
nationalism, obedience, loyalty to the leader,
elimination of the common enemy.
• “Believe! Obey! Fight!”
• One main difference between the Fascists in
Italy & the Nazis in Germany was the
• Jews were not seen as a problem in Italy;
communists & leftists were the scapegoats.
Were there other fascist leaders?
• Francisco Franco in Spain.
• Juan Peron in Argentina (his wife was Eva of
“Evita” fame.)
• Adolf Hitler
Francisco Franco
Juan Peron
Eva Peron
 Mussolini & his mistress were executed
Italian communists on April 28, 1945.
The next day the bodies of Mussolini and his
mistress were found hung upside down on meat
hooks in Piazzale Loreto (Milan).
 Franco stayed in power until his death in 1975; he
named Prince Juan Carlos de Borbon as his
successor in 1969.
Juan Carlos became king on the death of Franco.
Bodies of Mussolini, his mistress, & Italian
government officials after their execution.
 Juan Peron was driven from power in 1955
& then returned to power in 1973-74.
 His wife Eva (Evita) died of cancer in 1952.
She was hugely popular & inspired Andrew
Lloyd Weber’s musical, “Evita.”
Peron died in exile in 1974.
Today’s Top 10 Dictators
Sudan: Omar al-Bashir (1989)
North Korea: Kim Jong-il (1994)
 Burma (Myanmar): Than Shwe (1992)
 Zimbabwe: Robert Mugabe (1980)
 Uzbekistan: Islam Karimov (1990)
 China: Hu Jintao (2002)
 Saudi Arabia: King Abdullah (1995)
 Turkmenistan: Saparmurat Niyazov (1990)
 Iran: Seyed Ali Khamane’i (1989)
 Equatorial Guinea: Teodoro Obiang Nguema
Other countries with dictatorship include
Part I: Matching
IL Duce
Review Questions--Fascism
1. What promises did fascism make that
appealed to Italians?
2. Fascists in Italy wanted to pursue what
national goals?
3. What ideals were Italian youths taught under
the Fascist government?
4. What is considered to be a woman’s true
profession under a fascist or Nazi
5. What slogans were men, women, & children in
Italy bombarded with to support fascism?
6. Historically, what has tended to happen when
nations experience continued political instability
& economic depression?
7. What type of government did Mussolini create
in Italy in 1922?
8. What term best describes a leader who has
complete power over his nation?
9. In a nation ruled by totalitarian government,
what is/are the main purpose(s) of education,
art, & literature?
10. Which dictator did Mussolini inspire to create
an authoritarian government in Germany?
11. What slogan did Mussolini & the Fascist party
use to inspire the Italian people?
12. Which were the major reasons for Hitler’s rise
to power in Germany?
13. What is the purpose of having a scapegoat
under an authoritarian government?
14. What valid conclusions can be drawn from a
study of the rise to power of the Nazi Party in
Germany in the 1930s?
15. According to Hitler, who, besides the Jews
were responsible for Germany’s problems?
16. What was the overriding concern of the
U.S. during the period 1930-1935?
17. What characteristics would Italy under
Mussolini & Germany under Adolf Hitler
18. During the 1930s, why did the Nazi Party
receive support from the German people?
19. Which of the following is a valid conclusion
based on a study of the Holocaust?
20. How successful was the Beer Hall Putsch?
21. What was Hitler’s belief about Germany’s loss
in WW I?
22. Which incident would play a major role in
forming Hitler’s anti-Semitism?
23. What government preceded Germany’s Third
24. Which situation contributed to Hitler’s rise to
power in Germany after World War I?
25. Fascism in Europe during the 20s & 30s can
best be described as what type of government?
1. List 3 characteristics of an authoritarian
2. List 3 modern day dictators & the country
he runs.
3. List 2 reasons why fascist were antidemocratic.
4. List 2 values promoted by Mussolini’s
Fascist party.
False statements
1. Under a fascist or authoritarian government,
teachers are encouraged to instill in their
students the respect for democracy &
democratic government.
2. Most authoritarian governments come to
power in a time of relative peace & stability.
3. Authoritarian governments encourage
individualism & a spirit of questioning,
especially concerning the policies of the
4. The spread of democratic principles has
virtually destroyed all authoritarian style
5. The main supporters of an authoritarian
government would come from the liberal
professionals who believe a strong, national
government is important.
• Under a fascist government, teachers are
encouraged to instill in their students the
respect for democracy & democratic
A fascist government thinks that democracy
promotes weakness. Democracy promotes
individualism & the fascists believe that the
state is more important than the individual.
Teachers must promote obedience to the state
& conformity.